Play at Work: An Integrative Review and Agenda for Future Research

Claire Aislinn Petelczyc, Alessandra Capezio, Lu Wang, Simon Lloyd D. Restubog, Karl Aquino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Play has gained increasing interest among progressive-minded managers as an important driver of motivation and productivity in work contexts. Despite its popularity in contemporary organizations, there is little consensus in the academic literature about the role of play in the workplace. This review organizes and synthesizes the current state of knowledge of play at work in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding of what play at work is, when individuals engage in play at work, and the effects of workplace play on work outcomes. First, we review existing definitions of play and their limitations. We then introduce a recent conceptualization of play in adulthood that defines play based on three core features and discuss its relevance in the workplace. Second, we review theoretical perspectives on play and extant empirical research on the antecedents and consequences of play at work, organizing it according to three levels of analysis. Third, we propose a promising agenda for future research by focusing on a number of important issues that have emerged from our review of existing work. These issues are organized into two sections: refining and extending the current research on play, and generating novel ideas and new research directions on unexplored areas of inquiry. We believe this review makes important and timely contributions to the research on play at work by providing comprehensive analysis of the diverse and fragmented literature on play in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)161-190
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Management
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • fun at work
  • play at work
  • playful culture
  • playfulness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Finance
  • Strategy and Management


Dive into the research topics of 'Play at Work: An Integrative Review and Agenda for Future Research'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this